Dick and DollyŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
ďPlease forgive us,Ē said Dick, holding out his little hand. ďWeíve had a lovely time,†Ė and,†Ė and we hope youíll come to see us.Ē
ďI canít make you out!Ē said Mrs. Hampton, looking at the children in perplexity. ďI thought you threw down that ice cream purposely.Ē
ďOh, no!Ē cried both twins at once, and Dolly went on eagerly: ďyou see, we never saw low-necked ladies and gentlemen at a party before; and we were so awfully interested, we leaned over to see better, and I sípose the gas-lights heated up our ice cream and melted it, and it just slipped off the plates.Ē
ďWe ought to have held the plates more level,Ē said Dick, thoughtfully; ďIím sorry we didnít.Ē
ďIím sorry, too, for you mortified me terribly and annoyed my guests, which was worse.Ē
ďItís terrible!Ē said Dolly, with a sigh. ďI donít see how you can forgive us.Ē
ďI couldnít if you werenít such a sweet little culprit,Ē said Mrs. Hampton, smiling, and catching Dolly in her arms and kissing her. Then she kissed Dick too, and, still smiling, she hurried away.
The maid found the childrenís hats, and hurried them down the back stairs, where the coachman was waiting for them. Evidently the servants were not as forgiving as Mrs. Hampton, for Dick and Dolly were fairly hustled into the carriage, the door was banged shut, and they were rapidly driven homeward.
At Dana Dene, they were met on the threshold by two very frightened-looking ladies, and while Aunt Rachel and Aunt Abbie each clasped a twin in her arms, the Hampton carriage drove away.
ďYou dear babies! where have you been?Ē cried Aunt Abbie, while Aunt Rachel squeezed Dick with an affection too deep for words.
ďWhere have we been?Ē cried Dick, in amazement. ďWhy, weíve been at Mrs. Hamptonís, where you told us to go, and wait for you. Weíve been waiting there ever since five oíclock!Ē
ďWhy, Dickie, dear,Ē expostulated Miss Rachel, ďwe went to Mrs. Hamptonís at five oíclock, and waited there for you until nearly six! Then we came home, and ever since weíve been nearly frantic because we didnít know where you were. Michael and Pat have been out hunting with lanterns.Ē
ďBut, Auntie, dear,Ē said Dolly, ďwe did go to Mrs. Hamptonís, and after we waited and waited, and you didnít come, she gave us supper in her sitting-room, ícause she had a dinner party in the dining-room, and the ladies had on beautiful frocks, all lacy and low-necked, and we spilled ice cream on íem!Ē
ďYesím; we didnít mean to, you know, but it melted.Ē
ďDolly, what are you talking about? Mrs. Hampton is not having a dinner party this evening. I just left there at six oíclock, so I know.Ē
ďWell, our Mrs. Hampton is,Ē said Dick. ďAre there two Mrs. Hamptons in Heatherton, auntie?Ē
ďNo, of course there arenít! I wonder where you have been!Ē
ďWell, she is Mrs. Hampton, we called her that, and so did the maid.
Itís a beautiful house,†Ė with a great big open round in the hall, where you can look down,†Ė and a fountain outside.Ē
Miss Rachel sent for Michael.
ďMichael,Ē said she, ďwhere do you suppose these children have been? Whose carriage brought them home?Ē
ďI donít know, Miss Rachel. Itís a new turnout in Heatherton. All swell, jingly harness and livery, aní the like oí that.Ē
ďDolly says they live in a big white house with a fountain in front.Ē
ďArrah, thin, itís the new people as is afther takiní the Van Zandt place. A widdy lady of great forchin, Iím towld; aní be the same token, I do belave they said her name was Hampden, or somethiní like that.Ē
Of course that was the explanation. Mrs. Hampden was a wealthy young widow who had just came to Heatherton to live. The Dana ladies did not know her, and probably never would have known her had it not been for the twinsí escapade.
For lively little Mrs. Hampden belonged to a gay, modern set that had little in common with the Dana ladiesí older and more conservative circle of friends. Also, she was not at all like the Mrs. Hampton on whom Miss Rachel and Miss Abbie were calling, and where the twins were expected to meet them.
But as the real fault lay at the auntiesí door, inasmuch as they had not given the twins sufficiently explicit directions, it did not seem fair to blame Dick and Dolly.
And after hearing the story the twins told, Miss Rachel and Miss Abbie saw that it was their duty to call on Mrs. Hampden, and apologise for the trouble the children had made for her.
This was not a pleasant or an easy thing to do, but as it turned out, Mrs. Hampden was so flattered at having the Dana ladies call on her that she willingly forgave the childrenís escapade, and begged that they might be allowed to come to see her again.
This was not promised, for Miss Rachel Dana of Dana Dene was very careful about making new acquaintances, and considered her present visiting list quite long enough. The children themselves had no wish to go again to the house where they had met with such an untoward accident, and so the incident was closed, and the aunts trusted that Mrs. Hampden would not return their call.
ďBut I do think,Ē said Aunt Abbie, as they discussed the matter at home, ďthat you two children ought to be reproved for spilling that ice cream.Ē
ďI think so, too,Ē said Dick, cheerfully, ďbut ícourse you know, auntie, that we didnít mean to do it.Ē
ďCertainly,Ē said Aunt Abbie, with some asperity, ďI donít suppose you poured it down on the people purposely. But you are quite old enough to know better than to walk about with saucers of food in your hands.Ē
ďSo we are!Ē said Dolly, as if surprised at the fact. ďAunt Abbie, I do believe weíre íceedingly bad children!Ē
ďNot exactly that,Ē said Aunt Abbie, smiling in spite of herself, ďbut you are exceedingly thoughtless, and I want you to strive to correct that fault.Ē
ďYesím,Ē said Dick, earnestly, ďweíll strive like fury. Honest, we will, Aunt Abbie. Wonít we, Doll?Ē
ďYes, indeedy!Ē agreed Dolly, with a very affirmative wagging of her head. ďAnd now, if youíre all through scolding, Aunt Abbie, may we kiss you?Ē
Then, without waiting for the requested permission, both children tumbled themselves upon Miss Abbie, and gave her the soft answer that turneth away wrath. For who could continue to reprove two affectionate small persons, whose chubby arms flew about in wild caresses, and whose insistent kisses fell just wherever they happened to land? But Miss Abbie Dana was determined to instil some sense of decorum into her young charges, so when released from their embraces, she began again:
ďNow thatís another thing, children; I want you to love me, of course. But it seems to me you neednít be so Ė so Ė Ē
ďRampageous?Ē volunteered Dick. ďThatís what Pat says we are.Ē
ďWe canít help it, auntie,Ē said Dolly, fixing her big brown eyes solemnly on her aunt. ďYou see, weíre so íthusiastic that when we love anybody we love íem fearful! And we just ídore you and Aunt Rachel. Donít we, Dick?Ē
ďWell, I guess!Ē and then Miss Abbie had to stand another series of pats and kisses, which, in view of the recent conversation, the twins made a little less boisterous.
ďWell, youíre dear little twinsies,Ē said Aunt Abbie, as at last they ran away.
ďAnd,Ē she added to herself, ďI think I can make them improve their manners by just keeping at it.Ē
Poor Miss Abbie wanted to bring the children up rightly, but the work was so new to her she didnít know exactly how to conduct it.
As for Miss Rachel, she vibrated between over-indulgence and over-severity, an occasion of one being conscientiously followed by the other.
So the twins nearly always had their own sweet way, and as, though sometimes thoughtless, they were not mischievous children, Dana Dene was brighter and happier for their presence.
One Monday the aunties were getting ready for the Reading Circle, which was to meet at Dana Dene in the afternoon. It was very inconvenient for all the members that the club should meet on washdays, but as it always had done so, of course that couldnít be changed.
Some ladies had the washing put off till Tuesday, but life at Dana Dene was far too methodical for that.
So when the club was expected, Delia tried to get her wash all hung out by noon, and so be ready to help in the afternoon. For, though the club didnít assemble until three oíclock, and tea was served at five, there was much to be done in the way of prinking up the house for the occasion. The twins were allowed to help, and Dolly dusted, and brought water for the flower vases, and helped adjust fresh pillow-shams and bureau covers, until Aunt Rachel declared she didnít know how she ever got ready for Reading Circle without Dollyís help. And Dickís as well; for he cut flowers, and ran lots of errands, and did lots of useful things.
And when, at about eleven oíclock, he saw the telegram boy coming with a yellow envelope, he took it and flew to Aunt Rachel with it faster than any one else could have done.
ďFor gracious goodnessí sake!Ē exclaimed Miss Rachel as she read it; ďAunt Nine is coming to dinner to-day!Ē
ďTo-day!Ē said Miss Abbie in a tone positively tragic, as she sank down in a big chair. ďWhy, she canít, Rachel! Itís after eleven now, and the Reading Circle coming at three, and nothing but cold beef for dinner!Ē
ďIt doesnít matter whether she can or not; sheís coming,Ē and Miss Rachel, who had turned fairly white with dismay, sat down opposite her sister.
ďWhoís Aunt Nine? What a funny name!Ē cried Dick, dancing around in excited curiosity.
Dolly picked up the telegram, which had fluttered to the floor.
ďĎWill arrive at twelve-thirty,íĒ she read; ďĎmeet me at the station.íĒ
ďWhy, itís signed ĎP. Dana,íĒ said Dick. ďHow can P. Dana be Aunt Nine? How can it, Aunt Abbie?Ē He squeezed into the big chair beside Miss Abbie, and patted her cheek to attract her attention. ďHow can it? How does P. stand for Nine? Or do you mean nine aunts are coming? Oh, Doll, wouldnít that be fun?Ē
ďTell me,Ē urged Dolly, squeezing herself into Aunt Rachelís lap, ďtell me first, auntie, ífore Dick knows. Quick, tell me! Whoís Aunt Nine? What does it mean?Ē
ďOh, Dolly, for mercyís sake donít bother me now! Sheís Aunt Penninah, your great-aunt, of course. We always call her Aunt Nine. And sheís the most particular, fussy, pernicketty old lady in the world!Ē
ďOh, sheís dreadful!Ē sighed Aunt Abbie. ďWe always spend weeks getting ready for her. She never came so unexpectedly before.Ē
ďBut the house is all in order,Ē suggested Dolly, anxious to be comforting.
ďYes, for the Reading Circle. But not for Aunt Penninah. She looks into every cupboard and storeroom, and, besides, weíve nothing for dinner.Ē
ďIíll go get something,Ē offered Dick. ďWhat do you want?Ē
ďOh, I donít know! I donít know!Ē groaned Miss Rachel. ďGo and send Hannah here. And itís wash-day, too! And the Reading Club! Oh, what can we do?Ē
But after the first surprise and bewilderment were over, the Dana ladies rose to the occasion, and did the best they could.
Michael was sent to town for supplies, Hannah was instructed to set the table with special elaboration, and Aunt Abbie herself went into the kitchen and whisked up a pudding.
Delia was still at her washing, and Pat was putting finishing touches to the lawn and flower-beds so they could not be disturbed.
The twins flew about in earnest endeavours to help, but after their breaking a cut-glass vase, and upsetting a small table of bric-?-brac, Aunt Rachel lost patience.
ďDick and Dolly,Ē she said, ďyou go upstairs and stay either in your own rooms or in your playroom until dinner is served at one oíclock! Do you understand? No; Iím not scolding, but Iím so put about that you two simply drive me distracted! Now obey me exactly, for thatís all you can do to help. Come down to the library at five minutes to one,†Ė not a minute before. And see that youíre spandy clean, and very nicely dressed. Put on your blue lawn, Dolly, and tie your hair ribbons carefully.Ē
ďYesím; Dickíll tie íem for me. He does it just lovely.Ē
Subdued by Aunt Rachelís desperate manner, the twins crept away, resolved to be very good, and do exactly as they were told.
ďIt isnít twelve yet,Ē said Dick; ďno use dressing now. Weíd only get all rumpled up. Letís go up in the playroom.Ē
So up they went, and began to play with Lady Eliza.
ďHello, íLiza!Ē cried Dick, shaking her wax hand cordially. ďI havenít seen you in some time. Are you well?Ē
ďPretty well,Ē said Dolly in a squeaky voice. It was part of their play that, whenever either twin spoke to Lady Eliza, the other twin was to answer for her.
ďPretty well. But Iím tired of this old frock,†Ė I want a change.Ē
ďAll right,Ē said Dick; ďweíll fix you up. Letís rig her up gay, Doll, and weíll show her off to Aunt Nine.Ē
ďAll right,Ē and Dolly flew to the trunk that contained Lady Elizaís wardrobe.
They selected an old-fashioned blue silk dress that Aunt Rachel had given them, and proceeded to array Eliza in it. Then Dolly dressed her hair. She loved to do this, for Elizaís hair was very profuse, if not of very fine texture, and soon Dolly had built a fine array of puffs and curls, with a fancy ornament of blue and silver tucked in at the side.
Then, desiring to make her very grand, Dolly put a necklace of her own round Elizaís neck, and added several long strings of beads, hung with various trinkets.
ďHow do I look?Ē said Dolly in the squeaky voice that always represented Lady Elizaís talking.
ďYou look gay,Ē said Dick. ďPerhaps this afternoon youíll meet a grand lady, Miss Nine Dana. I hope youíll behave properly.Ē
ďOh, Iíll behave lovely,Ē squeaked Eliza, and then the twins ran away to dress for dinner. By quarter of one they were all ready.
Dolly looked very sweet and demure in her frilly blue lawn, and her beautiful hair was tied with a big white bow which Dick had skilfully arranged. By practice his deft little fingers had conquered the science of tying bows, so Dollyís hair ribbons were always marvels of correct proportions.
They had promised not to go to the library until five minutes of one, and the ten minutes intervening seemed interminable. They drifted back to the playroom to say good-by to Eliza, when Dick had an inspiration.
ďLetís take her down,Ē he said, ďand put her in the dining-room to greet Aunt Nine when we all go out to dinner.Ē
ďLetís!Ē cried Dolly, and in a jiffy they were carrying the Lady Eliza Dusenbury silently down the back stairs. By good luck they didnít encounter Hannah or the aunties, and they reached the dining-room in safety.
ďWhere shall we stand her?Ē said Dick. ďIn the bay window?Ē
ďNo,Ē said Dolly. ďLetís sit her at the table.Ē
ďShe wonít sit.Ē
ďWell, weíll sort of slide her under; if we put her in Aunt Rachelís big chair sheíll be all right.Ē
They propped Eliza into the chair, and though she seemed to be falling backward in a swoon, her bright eyes and pink cheeks betokened good health. Her elaborate costume looked fine at the prettily set table, and Dick moved her arms about until they seemed extended in welcome.
ďThatís fine!Ē said Dolly, nodding admiringly at the tableau.
ďThis is finer!Ē cried Dick, and taking the large carving-knife from the table, he thrust it into Elizaís outstretched hand. This was easily done by sticking the knife handle partly up her long tight sleeve, and her effect, as she brandished the glittering steel, was now ferocious.
ďGay!Ē cried Dolly; ďwonít they be síprised! Come on, Dick, itís five minutes to one.Ē
The twins, hand in hand, went into the library, and with their best curtseys were presented to Aunt Penninah.
ďThese are the children, Aunt Nine,Ē said Miss Rachel, and Dick and Dolly saw, sitting an a big armchair, the most imposing-looking personage they had ever met.
Miss Penninah Dana was a large and very tall woman, with white hair, and large, piercing black eyes that seemed to see everything.
ďHím; twins, are you?Ē she said, looking at them over her eyeglasses. ďYou seem very demure. Are you always so quiet?Ē
Dick rolled his eyes toward Aunt Rachel.
ďShall we show her?Ē he whispered, quite ready to pounce on the new aunt if desired.
ďMercy, no!Ē said Miss Rachel. ďDo behave, if you can.Ē
ďWell,Ē said Dick, answering Aunt Nineís question, ďweíre not always so quiet. But to-day weíre trying to be good because youíre here, and the Reading Circle is coming.Ē
ďBut sometimes weíre good when there isnít company, too,Ē put in Dolly, not wanting to be misjudged.
ďIím surprised at that!Ē said Aunt Nine, but there was a merry gleam in her eye, and somehow the twins began to think they were going to like her in spite of her majestic appearance.
Then dinner was announced, and, as the guest arose, the children were impressed afresh with her evident importance.
She walked like a duchess, and seemed to expect everybody to dance attendance upon her.
Aunt Rachel picked up her handkerchief, and Aunt Abbie her vinaigrette, for she dropped them both as she rose.
The twins, greatly interested, walked behind, and they all started toward the dining-room.
As they neared the door, the hostesses stepped back and Aunt Penninah stalked stiffly into the room.
Perhaps it was not to be wondered at, for the figure at the table was certainly startling to look at, and the glittering carving knife was aimed straight at her, but Aunt Penninah threw up both her hands, gave a fearful shriek, and fainted dead away!
ďOh, Aunt Nine, what is the matter?Ē cried Miss Rachel, bending over her, while Miss Abbie fluttered around distractedly.
They had not yet seen Lady Eliza, as they were so engrossed with their stricken guest.
Nor did it occur to Dick and Dolly, at first, that it was their beloved Eliza that had caused the trouble.
Aunt Penninah began to revive, as Miss Rachel sprinkled water in her face, and Miss Abbie held her strong smelling-salts to her nose.
ďWho is it?Ē she asked, faintly, sitting up on the floor, and pointing to the dangerous-looking person with the carving knife.
ďOh,Ē cried Dolly, ďif she wasnít scared at Lady Eliza! Why, thatís nobody, Aunt Nine! Only just a wax doll.Ē
ďTake that thing away!Ē said Miss Rachel, sternly, as she realised what had happened.
Dick and Dolly fairly jumped. Aunt Rachel had never spoken to them in that tone before, and they suddenly realised that it had been naughty to put Eliza at the table, though they had thought it only a joke. Silently, the twins began to lift Eliza from her chair, when Aunt Nine screamed out:
ďCome away, children! Youíll be killed! Oh, Rachel, who is she?Ē
ďNobody, Aunt Nine. Itís a doll, a wax dummy that belongs to the children. They put her there for fun, I suppose.Ē
ďFun!Ē roared Aunt Penninah, glaring at the twins. ďDo you call it fun to frighten me out of my senses?Ē
As her speech and manner nearly frightened the twins out of their senses, they were pretty nearly even, but apparently the old lady was waiting for an answer.
ďWe thought it would be fun,Ē said Dolly, truthfully. ďYou see, we didnít know how easily you scared.Ē
ďEasily scared, indeed! Who wouldnít be scared to come into a room and find a strange woman brandishing a carving knife in my very face! A nice pair of children you are! Leave the room at once,†Ė or else I shall!Ē
Dick and Dolly were bewildered by this tornado of wrath, and began to edge toward the hall door, keeping out of reach of the irate lady.
But Miss Rachel, though deeply mortified and seriously annoyed at the twinsí mischief, was a strong stickler for justice, and she well knew, Dick and Dolly had meant only a harmless joke.
ďNow, Aunt Nine,Ē she said; ďdonít take this so seriously. The children meant no harm, they wanted to amuse you; and had it not been for the carving knife, I daresay you would have found the Lady Eliza very funny indeed.Ē
ďFunny! that horrible thing with her staring eyes! Take her away so I can eat my dinner!Ē
At a gesture from Aunt Abbie, Hannah and Dick removed the offending Eliza, and returned the carving knife to the sideboard. As Eliza was a great friend of both Hannah and Delia, she was allowed to stand in the butlerís pantry all through dinner time.
ďWell, what do you say, Aunt Nine?Ē said Aunt Abbie, ďmay the twins sit at table, or would you rather have them sent from the room?Ē
ďOh, let them stay,Ē said the old lady, not very graciously. ďIíve no desire to be too severe, but that awful sight shocked my nerves, and I may never get over it.Ē
This awful outlook grieved Dollyís tender heart, and she flew to the old lady and clasped her hand, while she said:
ďIím so sorry, Aunt Nine! I didnít know you had nerves, and I thought youíd be ímused to see Lady Eliza sitting there. I donít know how we happened to give her the carving knife. But we ímost always put something in her hand. I wish weíd thought of a fan! That would have been pretty, and it wouldnít have hurt your nervousness,†Ė would it?Ē
ďPerhaps not,Ē said Aunt Penninah, grimly, but she couldnít help smiling at pretty little Dolly, who was caressing her be-ringed old hand, and looking imploringly up into her face.
Then she turned to Dick.ŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
ŮÚūŗŪŤŲŻ: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14